Young children have become prime targets of identity thieves because the law requires children to have Social Security numbers, yet they rarely are involved with credit. An identity thief who is able to obtain a child’s name and Social Security number can leverage that information into identity theft and obtain credit as well as make large purchases while ruining the credit of the child who may not be aware that the crime has occurred until the child is much older and applies for financial aid, a car loan or some other financial transaction. Often the perpetrators of this crime are family members, baby sitters or others who may have easy access to the child’s information. Other times personal information gathered about your child by his or her school or an extracurricular program such as sports or music becomes the source of the problem if they do not properly protect the security of your child’s information.
Guard your child’s Social Security number at home. Keep any documents with the number on them locked in a secure location. Find out from your child’s school or other organization that is gathering such information what they are doing to protect that information as well as with whom they share that information. Federal law requires schools to notify parents about the school’s directory information policy and to offer families the right to opt out of the release of any data on their child to third parties.